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FCA confirms reducing transfer times remains a priority and backs STAR initiative

Press Release

FCA confirms reducing transfer times remains a priority and backs STAR initiative

11 May 2021

A growing community of 78 firms have signed up to the STAR initiative, which officially launched in January 2019 and it’s membership is committed to shaping recognised, industry-wide standards to promote good practice in transfers.

The STAR Steering Group, Implementation Group and wider membership have been determined to progress with the initiative, despite Covid-19. Core Management Information (MI) has been agreed to measure transfer performance. The objective of Core MI Reporting is to allow for the accreditation of STAR members to reflect their performance within the transfer journey. Each service level (SLA) product group has been given individual consideration by the STAR Implementation Group. The STAR SLA Groups are:

  • ISA & GIA
  • Personal Pensions, SIPP and SSAS
  • Occupational / DC Pensions
  • Fund Managers / Transfer Agents


Core MI for the Occupational Pensions and Personal Pensions, SIPP and SSAS MI Submissions will initially focus its requirements on the reporting of electronic transfers. The reporting of re-registrations and manual transfers will be included when the Group feel that there is sufficient data available to report on them. For ISA&GIA it has been agreed that the data to be submitted may not be readily available electronically, therefore the focus is on the reporting of the overall end to end journey data, and the ceding party journey. Monthly MI submissions will be uploaded securely to the STAR website by authorised users to an agreed CSV format.

This is a key milestone for STAR, enabling the initiative to become the single, authoritative source of transfer data on how firms are performing – the output of which will be a quarterly industry index and an annual accreditation scheme for participants. STAR Accreditations of bronze, silver and gold will be awarded so that performance can be evidenced,
rewarded and improvements encouraged across the industry.

STAR is also working towards full MI reporting. This more detailed MI will provide an indication of how an organisation is performing in the specific processes that it is responsible for in a transfer / re-registration journey. Each step in the process has been given an agreed target SLA, set in business days. Reporting will be against a target SLA rather than a specific Process Step. This allows reporting to match the process followed, e.g where an organisation processes two steps at the same time, they can report against the combined SLA for those steps. Regular implementation meetings are being held to enable the industry to continue to collaborate to deliver the STAR objectives. In addition, an Accreditation Roadmap has been agreed, seeking to accredit organisations in Q1 2022 (for their 2021 data). The annual accreditation scheme will start in January 2022 based on agreed MI consisting of at least 3 consecutive month’s submission of 2021
data.

The FCA, The Pensions Regulator and the Department of Work and Pensions (and ABI, IA) continue to support STAR’s aims and objectives and participate as observers at the STAR Steering Group. Since the FCA’s initial approach to STAR, it has carried out its Investment Platforms Market Study. A key focus of this work has been to improve outcomes for
customers through the portability of investments to drive competition and increase choice. The FCA has been clear throughout this process that Pension Providers, Platforms and Fund Managers must deliver efficient, timely transfers to support this, and that it is looking to STAR to be part of the industry solution.

"STAR is a voluntary framework and due to the significant organisations participating, represents a significant cross section of the financial services industry. We continue to make strong progress despite the challenges of dealing with Covid-19. I am delighted that the initiative has reached a significant milestone for us, which is central to our objectives. The last year has been an intense period of work with the industry galvanised to drive forward this solution. Not only will this initiative improve outcomes for customers, but for participating organisations, it will drive efficiencies and save money in the process. The accreditation roadmap is synchronised with the timings of the FCA who have said they would review progress in 2022 and take further regulatory action if necessary. We are delighted that the FCA encourage firms in the retail investment and pension sectors not already involved in STAR to take part. It is aligned with shared desired outcomes to improve the customer experience, reduce how long it takes to complete transfers and ensure consumers can move to a provider that better meets their needs more easily.”

Andrew Marker, Head of Retail Pensions, Vanguard and STAR Chair

The STAR initiative, backed by the regulators and the government, is the only cross industry solution bringing together platforms, providers, life companies, service providers and transfer / asset managers. The initiative has galvanised the industry to create long-term solutions to improving customer experience of transferring pensions, savings and investments between companies, by setting and measuring against a good practice framework.

"The FCA’s Investment Platforms Market Study highlighted that improving transfer times is critical in improving consumers’ ability to shop around and switch to a platform that better meets their needs. The FCA is supportive of the progress STAR has made to date and the production of Core MI is an important interim step towards achieving its objectives, which aim to bring down transfer times. Full MI reporting, as proposed, seeks to provide equal accountability for firms across the transfer process, as originally envisaged by TRIG. Reducing transfer times remains a priority for the FCA and Full MI will play an important role in ensuring this. Therefore, we are strongly supportive of STAR continuing to pursue the Full MI and its publication. We have committed to a review of progress against our desired outcomes in relation to transfers in 2022, and we will actively be following STAR’s progress towards its objectives over the next 12 months.”

The FCA’s Executive Director for Consumers and Competition, Sheldon Mills

Notes

For further information please contact:

Matthew Dransfield
Commercial and Marketing Director
Criterion
0773 765 0010
media@criterion.org.uk

About STAR

STAR was created as a collaboration between Criterion and TeX, combining the industry-reach, unique strengths, experience and shared ambition of the two not-for-profit organisations.

Criterion was formed for the industry in July 2017, as an independent, not-for-profit industry body providing Standards and Governance services. It was originally part of Origo Services Ltd and has been publishing process and integration standards for over 25 years. Criterion is uniquely positioned to facilitate and drive cross-industry engagement, helping organisations achieve higher levels of collaboration, reduce costs and achieve better outcomes for their consumers.

TeX is a not-for-profit organisation which works with the industry to ensure that the maximum benefit is provided to all members. This new company is financially independent from TISA but benefits from being linked to the TISA brand through name, the expertise provided by the two corporate entity directorships and the administrative support provided by TISA.

© 2022 CT Holdings and Services Limited (CTHS), a joint venture between TISA Exchange Limited and Criterion Tec Limited.

All rights reserved. Company number: 11700872.

SERVICING AGREEMENT

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1. APPLICANT COVERED BY THIS REGISTRATION.
Please note this registration will not be processed if Step 1 has not been completed.
If your organisation is acting only as an affiliate, you do not need to complete Step 2.
2a. CHOOSE YOUR BRAND
STAR manages the administration of third-party access to the portal, rather than the member firm. This allows for a smoother transition for the member firm and allowing immediate access to the supplier to submit MI on their behalf. STAR will hold an approved list of users per supplier, which will be allocated to your account at the point of registration. This ensures each ‘external’ user has the same access across all their client accounts. Supplier access is restricted and they do not have any ability to see any company information for any client other than what they submit on your behalf. You as the member control access for any other users within your organisation. We will include a more detailed description about the user access on your welcome email and it is clearly defined as part of the User Guide.
STAR RELATIONSHIP MANAGER FOR FIRST BRAND
This person will be the main contact for all notices and other formal communications under this agreement and will be responsible for the administration of the members portal access (including without limitation the providing, updating and removing of authorised User access to the portal during the Term).
2b.
STAR RELATIONSHIP MANAGER FOR THE SECOND BRAND
This person will be the main contact for all notices and other formal communications under this agreement and will be responsible for the administration of the members portal access (including without limitation the providing, updating and removing of authorised User access to the portal during the Term).
2c.
STAR RELATIONSHIP MANAGER FOR THE THIRD BRAND
This person will be the main contact for all notices and other formal communications under this agreement and will be responsible for the administration of the members portal access (including without limitation the providing, updating and removing of authorised User access to the portal during the Term).
2d.
STAR RELATIONSHIP MANAGER FOR THE THIRD BRAND
This person will be the main contact for all notices and other formal communications under this agreement and will be responsible for the administration of the members portal access (including without limitation the providing, updating and removing of authorised User access to the portal during the Term).
3. INVOICE INFORMATION
Invoices are sent by email as standard, if a printed invoice is required please note the address and your requirements in the additional information section.
4. DECLARATION
Before we can process your Brand Registration a STAR Servicing Agreement needs to be signed. Your signatory must be duly authorised for and on behalf of the organisation named in this application.
We only need one signed STAR Servicing Agreement which will cover all brands that you wish to register.
STAR will email the servicing contract to the signatory email address (provided below) through our electronic platform Yoti. This declaration must be signed in order for your application to complete, once we receive the signed agreement we will instruct our finance department to issue your invoice.
You have already supplied a STAR Servicing Agreement, we will be in touch if we need anything else.

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Thank you for applying to join the STAR accreditation scheme. We will endeavour to respond as soon as possible using the contact information you’ve provided to us.